Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning tweeted an appeal for the voters in Bihar to "set a new record" as polling began in 78 of the 243 seats of the state for the last phase of the country's biggest election amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"Bihar is voting for the third and final phase of the state elections. I appeal to all the voters to step out in large numbers and participate in this festival of democracy and set a new record. And yes, please wear a mask and adhere to the social distancing norms," the Prime Minister tweeted in Hindi.
The Prime Minister's appeal comes days after he addressed more than 12 campaign rallies in the state, asserting that the state "has made up its mind that it will elect NDA again". Nitish Kumar - the face of the BJP-JDU combine - is seeking his fourth term as the chief minister. Earlier this week, the JDU chief, who has often lost his cool this campaign season, said this will be his last election.
PM Modi was seen sharing stage with Nitish Kumar in many of these rallies.
Nitish Kumar's challenger and former deputy Tejashwi Yadav has addressed more than 15 rallies amid campaign heat.
More than 2.3 crore voters spread across 15 districts are eligible to vote today. In the second phase held on November 3, 94 seats were up for election, a chunk of them were BJP's strongholds in north Bihar. The key candidates included Tejashwi Yadav and his brother Tej Pratap Yadav.
The second phase saw 53.51 per cent people voting, down from the 56.9 per cent in 2015.
Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, polling timings have been extended by one hour, except in the Maoist-hit areas.